Dynaste looks set to defend his crown in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after coming up short on his return to Prestbury Park on Saturday.
Having filled the runner-up spot behind Silviniaco Conti in the King George VI Chase at Kempton, David Pipe’s grey was favourite to go one better in the BetBright Cup Chase, but had to make do with minor honours in third behind Many Clouds and Smad Place.
While not ruling out a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Pipe admits his charge is more likely to come back in trip in March.
He said: “Dynaste ran a good race. He was just beaten by better horses on the day.
“We’ll keep our options open, but it all looks to be pointing to the Ryanair.”
Another Pipe inmate with Festival ambitions is Un Temps Pour Tout, who was a beaten favourite in the Cleeve Hurdle.
The six-year-old was far from disgraced in finishing third on his first start since last May and Pipe is anticipating further improvement ahead of the World Hurdle.
“We were very happy with him. It was his first run over three miles and I think we can get him better and ride him differently going forward,” said Pipe.
“Hopefully he’ll be back there in March for the World Hurdle.”
Pipe meanwhile will wait until later in the week before deciding whether to let Kings Palace travel north for Saturday’s totepool Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby.
The seven-year-old is unbeaten in two starts over fences this season, turning in brilliant displays at Cheltenham in November and December, and disputes favouritism with Irish ace Don Poli for the RSA Chase at the Festival in March.
Pipe is keen to give his charge more match practice ahead of his return to Prestbury Park, with this weekend’s Grade Two event one of three potential targets. “We’re just having a look, we’ll see what the weather does and how he works during the week,” said the trainer.
“I think it’s hard for any of us to know what the weather is going to do at the moment, it might be worse up north, but we’ll see.
“Wetherby is one of a few options. There is the novice chase at Newbury on Betfair day (February 7) and then the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot (February 14).
“Those are the three races for him and we’ll hopefully go for one of them.”
Kings Palace is the star name among 15 horses in contention for Wetherby’s feature, with Alan King’s Ned Stark, the Philip Hobbs-trained Return Spring and Straidnahanna from Sue Smith’s yard among his potential opponents.
Clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson is pleased with the entries and is hopeful the fixture will not come under threat from the weather.
He said: “I’ve just looked at the entries and it looks a good race. Without checking I can’t be certain, but I think 15 entries could be pretty good compared to recent years.
“I looked at the weather forecast for the week yesterday and I was pretty content. A few people are concerned about a cold front coming in at the end of the week, but I looked again this morning and they are only talking about temperatures falling from 8C to 3C.
“I don’t see any problems on the horizon at this stage.”
Tom Symonds is hoping for rain for his entry Kaki De La Pree, who was last seen out when second to Pipe’s Gevrey Chambertin in a three-mile novice handicap at Newbury in December.
The eight-year-old was third to Return Spring on his chasing debut at Exeter in November.
Symonds said: “We have entered Kaki De La Pree but we would want to see some rain.
“The softer the ground the better for him. We have entered because he was declared for a race at Bangor which was off and he was also declared at Chepstow, which was also off.”
Baileys Concerto could be prepared for a trip to Aintree’s Grand National meeting after trainer Dianne Sayer soothed fears over an injury suffered in the Skybet Chase at Doncaster.
The nine-year-old was rated just 96 when winning his first race over fences at Hexham in March of last year, but having won four chases since, as well as a couple of hurdle races, he now has a mark in the 130s.
He turned in a career-best effort to fill the runner-up spot in Saturday’s prestigious handicap on Town Moor and although on Sunday Sayer was concerned her charge had returned with a leg injury, she is now hopeful he will make a swift recovery.
Sayer said: “There is still some inflammation there in the puncture wound, so we decided not to scan him in the end, but I’m 90 per cent sure it’s nothing serious.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much yesterday, the day after the race, but there is enough of a graze there for it to be showing us what it’s showing us and I’m fairly certain he hasn’t suffered any tendon damage.
“It will probably take a week or two to heal up and we’ll have a scan in a fortnight or so, just to make sure, but fingers crossed he’s going to be fine.
“We haven’t really made any plans for him. We’ll just wait and see.
“I would say he’s probably more like to go to Aintree than Cheltenham. I think Aintree is more his track and hopefully he’ll get his preferred ground.”
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